We sailed along the Croatian coast for two weeks in September 2009. Our ship was a Bénéteau Oceanis 323 and the entire route can be found below.
We sailed approximately 335 miles in total. Starting in Split via Brač, Korčula and Lastovo, then via the Elaphite Islands to Dubrovnik. Taking it easy, we sailed back via Mljet, Korčula, Hvar and Vis to Trogir, after which we returned to Split. Anchoring for 9 nights, and 4 harbours.
The weather was good, sunshine every day and temperatures up to 30 degrees Celsius and even higher. We had one day with rain and thunderstorms during this trip. The Bura winds gave us a great finale. Most days we had northerly (Bura) and northwesterly winds (Tramontana), and one day we had Jugo winds (southeasterly). Seawater temperature was 24 – 25 degrees Celsius – great for swimming.
Darkness came early (20:00) given that it was already late season. During the night, the temperature dropped to around 20 degrees Celsius. It was still pretty busy in the popular ports and bays.
A swim, breakfast, and at 08:20 the weather forecast via Dubrovnik Radio VHF (we are too far away for Split Radio by now). The great daily morning routine on our ship. The weather prognosis is the same as yesterday, and around this time the air temperature is 25 degrees Celsius. We decide to sail eastward along the southern coast of the island of Mljet. Our objective for the day is Uvala Saplunara, a bay on the southeastern tip of Mljet. We lift anchor around 09:00 and leave Skrivena Luka. Once outside, we change course to 090, eastwards. A number of other ships take a more northeasterly course, probably towards Korčula or the northern side of Mljet. We want to keep the Vrhovnjaci, the chain of rocks and small islets east of Lastovo, to our port side and pass south of them.
The southwesterly wind, which was promised by the forecast, is nowhere to be seen. Instead, we have an easterly wind, straight on our bow. Around 10:30 the wind turns to north-east, 7 knots. Time to hoist our sails. At 11:30 we have the lighthouse of Glavat, the most easterly of the Vrhovnjaci, due north at 000 degrees. Not much later, the wind dies down again and we have to switch to the engine. We pass Goli Rat, the western cape of Mljet, around 13:00 hours. The wind returns not much later, and now it is the promised westerly (6 knots).
We hoist the sails again and continue along the southern shore of Mljet. There is just one other ship sailing on a westerly course, for the rest it is just us.
At 15:20 in the afternoon we listen to the afternoon weather forecast on Dubrovnik Radio. By that time we are 5 nautical miles west of Uvala Saplunara. For the evening and night a southwesterly wind is predicted. And Uvala Saplunara is completely open to the south-west. After last night’s experience in Skrivena Luka, we are looking for a quiet place to sleep. But if plan A fails, there is always the rest of the alphabet…
While passing Uvala Saplunara one hour later, we see a number of ships anchoring there. We continue eastwards and round Rt Gruj, the southeasterly tip of Mljet. Then it is course 055 towards the northeast, aiming for Prolaz Harpoti, the narrow channel between the islands of Šipan and Jakljan. These are part of the Elaphite Islands, a string of islands between Dubrovnik and the Pelješac peninsula. Prolaz Harpoti is a beautiful narrow channel, covered on both sides with strong-smelling pine trees.
After the passage through the channel, we go starboard out, sailing into the harbour of Šipanska Luka. By now it is 18:00 hours, and it turned into a long sailing day. We find a safe anchoring spot in the harbor and call it a day. Šipanska Luka looks nice and rather authentic when seen from our cockpit, but we do not have the energy anymore to launch the dinghy and go for some sightseeing. That night I sleep like a log, although I am afraid that the whole town heard my snoring…
I wake up at 04:00 hours. Everything is quiet, but I do get up and check our anchor. Outside, there is no wind and the sky is clear. You can see the stars and the moon is almost full. Our ship is anchored rock solid. The temperature is nice, and I stay outside for a while to enjoy the peace and quiet.
After a few more hours of sleep I do get up around 07:30, Time for a swim, and listening to the weather forecast via VHF. Breakfast after that, another swim, and some time for reading. We lift our anchor around 10:30. Immediately outside the cove we hoist our sails, the wind is northwesterly (Tramontana), 6 – 9 knots. The barometer rose 4 hPa to 1018 hPa since 08:00. Our course is 150 and boat speed is 4 knots while we sail towards the western coast of the island of Lastovo. Around 12:30 we pass the rock Plič Pod Mrčaru on the northern side of Lastovo. One hour later, we sail around the island of Bratin. Soon after that we see the lighthouse at Rt Skriževa and Rt Struga, and around 14:45 we drop our anchor in Skrivena Luka.
According to the pilot guides, Skrivena Luka is the finest anchorage around Lastovo. We are not 100% convinced, the protection against winds is not as good as we hoped for. There are some holiday homes around the bay, and on its western shore there is a restaurant with its own pier (which is rather busy). Together with four other ships we anchored in the northern section of the bay, in 5 meters of water.
That evening the winds turns towards north, and increases to 15 – 20 knots. Around 19:30 I notice that the other boats are coming closer. My reference points on the coast have moved as well. In other words: our anchor started dragging… At first we try to re-anchor close to our original anchoring spot, increase our scope from 1 in 4 (20 meters of chain) to 1 in 6 (30 meters of chain). But it does not work, within 30 minutes we are dragging again.
By now it is dark, and it is time for drastic measures. We switch on the navigation lights and lift our anchor again. We move towards the center of the bay, far from the other yachts. In 7 meters of water we drop 50 meters of chain, increasing our scope to 1 in 7. Using the engine in reverse, we help the anchor dig in. It seems to work.
Soon after that we are visited by a dinghy with some crew members from a German yacht, moored at the pier. They saw us drag and re-anchor, and wanted to ensure that we are alright. By then we have the situation under control, but I do appreciate their offer. It shows the true spirit of yachting! During the next hour, I check our position a number of times. We are anchored rock solid.
That night, I sleep in the cockpit again. Every two hours I get up and check the anchor. Around 02:00 the wind dies. From that moment on I sleep a bit more comfortable. However, I do feel rather exhausted when I get up at 07:00. This is vacation, remember…
I share my story about the dragging anchor in Skrivena Luka with a friend of mine, who is a local skipper, later that week. He explains the mystery to me. The northern section of Skrivena Luka has a rocky bottom with a thin layer of sand and mud. Your anchor will not dig in here. The central and southern sections of the bay do have a proper layer of sand and mud, which will hold your anchor well. Something to remember.